Congratulations are in order for two members of the Brandon University community who competed at one of the world’s most prestigious races this month. Trent Gill and Scott Lamont each completed the 2023 Boston Marathon. It was the 127th annual race, making it the oldest marathon race in the world.
Gill, an Academic Advisor in Student Services, completed the 42.2 km course in a personal best time of 2 hours, 49 minutes, and 38 seconds. His overall finish was 1,715th place out of 26,625 entrants — placing him in the top 7 per cent of all runners.
Lamont, BU’s Vice-President (Administration & Finance), finished this year in 3 hours, 36 minutes, and 30 seconds — good for the top 25 per cent in his category. He previously also ran the Boston Marathon in 2015.
After completing the race, Gill was interviewed on CBC Radio, and both Gill and Lamont were featured in the Brandon Sun.
Locals help Boston Marathon mark anniversary
By: Perry Bergson
Trent Gill had the feeling he was plugged into something a little bigger than a normal marathon on Monday.
The 127th running of the Boston Marathon came two days after the 10th anniversary of the bombing on April 15, 2013. The attack killed three people and injured more than 260 after two pressure-cooker bombs went off at the finish line. The 35-year-old Brandonite said he read numerous stories about runners who were intent on returning after they heard about the attack, and while Gill wasn’t a runner when it happened, it struck a chord with him too.
“You want to be part of something bigger,” Gill said. “I think that’s how a lot of runners feel when they try to qualify. They want to be part of something. It feels like as a runner you’re playing a very small role in helping the city continuously rebuild and commemorate and honour the people affected by the attacks.”
Gill ran the 26.2-mile race in 2:49:38, the fastest of his six marathons. He was joined at the prestigious event by the local duo of Scott Lamont, who finished in 3:36:30, and his son Ryan, who completed the course in 3:18:40.
Scott Lamont, who also participated in the race in 2015, said the most he heard about the anniversary was in the preparation for the marathon, which included about 30,000 runners.
“There a few commemorations I could see along the way where it was ‘Boston Strong’ and that sort of it,” Lamont said. “It was certainly there but I would say it didn’t overwhelm the race. It was an aspect of it. It didn’t take centre stage by any stretch.”
A memorial walk was held that included some of the victims and their families, and the “Boston Strong” slogan that emerged after the attack was used throughout the weekend.
“The news coverage focused a lot on that,” Gill said. “How the marathon has this history and that’s, unfortunately, one thing that’s now associated with the race. I think the city is just so proud of the race and united in its support and supporting the runners and the people affected by the bombings. It wanted to bounce back and really did.”
Runners who wish to race in the Boston Marathon must meet a qualifying time based on age and gender. That’s one of the compelling storylines for every athlete who participates.
Gill ran the Manitoba Marathon in 2018, his third attempt at qualifying for Boston. He was unprepared for the race and had a bad day, something he thinks he deserved.
“I wasn’t satisfied with myself and I wasn’t happy, and I knew it was because I didn’t train well enough,” Gill said. “That day, I vowed that if I get back into this, I want to show up at the starting line as ready as I can be. Ever since, I’ve tried to live up to that, and when I qualified in 2022, I had finally done it and knew I was going to get to go.
“I wanted to really experience and run the race, but at the same time, the marathon takes a lot of training and you only get so many cracks at it. You can’t just race them constantly and get into the best shape of your life over and over and over again.”
Gill got his time in May 2022 at the Saskatchewan Marathon in Saskatoon, finishing fourth overall as he beat the Boston qualifying time for his age group by eight minutes in 2:52:45, a personal best back then.
He went into Boston targeting a new personal best, and knew the environment would be perfect because he would be surrounded by other fast runners.
“I accepted that I’m not going to be socializing or celebrating the whole way,” Gill said. “I’m going to run hard and enjoy it and I’m going to pick my spots to hype up the crowd and enjoy the iconic sections of the course. When I’m done, I’ll be happy not only that I got a decent time but also that I got to experience the race.”
Scott Lamont, 64, was running his 22nd marathon since he started in 2013. He ran for a couple of years after he finished high school, set the sport aside for two decades, and after he earned his master’s degree at 40, took up running as his reward.
He qualified for Boston at Regina’s Queen City Marathon in September 2022 with a time of 3:30:18, well under the threshold of 4:05. His personal best is 3:18.
Ryan also qualified in 2:58:09.
Father and son have run a few marathons together, although they aren’t actually on the course beside each other because Ryan is faster. But Scott said it’s nice to know he’s out there somewhere.
“We share the passion, we share the preparation, we think very similarly,” said Lamont, who spoke on behalf of the pair. “We’re both up at 3 in the morning or 2:30 or whatever it is to get ready for the race. We stay together, we eat together, we make coffee together. It’s great having him there. I enjoy sharing the experience with him and wouldn’t have gone to Boston this year if he didn’t go.
“It’s very much a family thing for me. Will I go again next year? Not unless I have a reason to go with a family member or close friend. I’ve had the experience and would rather go somewhere new and different, but having my son there was absolutely the best.”
The race is a point-to-point event rather than the more common loop that has the starting line and finishing line together. Boston begins east of the city in the community of Hopkinton and passes through a number of small towns along the way. On Monday, it drizzled during the event, with at least one downpour, but spectators still turned out in droves.
“There is a different vibe, just based on how much the city embraces the race and the runners, and how proud the city and everyone who lives there is of the race and its history and all of its traditions,” Gill said. “Because you have to qualify, almost everyone there is really passionate and in it for the running and worked really hard to get there. Everyone is pretty serious about running a marathon as fast as they can.”
Lamont has also done the much-loved New York Marathon, so he has a good frame of reference for the bigger events in the United States. He said Boston is different, in part because so many people participate.
“When you’re going to the expo, for example, you’re lining up with thousands of people to get your bibs and your packages,” Lamont said. “Even driving through downtown Boston to get to the Convention Centre to get your stuff, there are just people everywhere and cars everywhere.”
That doesn’t change on race morning. The athletes are lined up to get on buses to be driven out to the start of the course, with people everywhere in tents and lining up for port-a-potties before they are herded into corrals based on their qualifying times.
And it certainly doesn’t stop when the horn sounds to begin the race.
“There are people around you all the time,” Lamont said. “I made a comment to somebody that if you drew a circle of maybe 50 feet around you, I would say there were never less than a hundred people in that 50-foot radius the whole time you’re running. Plus you have people lined up on both sides of the street most of the way screaming and yelling.”
It doesn’t even end at the finish line, because people who just completed the event have to get their medals, water and heat blankets while also being moved along to make room for new finishers.
“It’s a constant crowd and noise,” Lamont said. “You’re never alone. It’s never a personal experience. Running is a very personal, even selfish activity, but when you’re in a place in Boston there are just so many people around all the time that you don’t really get a lot of time for the sort of introspection you need to get yourself ready to go or to think about how you did at the end and how you feel.”
Gill said he obsessed over the course and the race, and trained harder than he ever had before, averaging around 90 miles per week since November. He did some long runs with Ryan Lamont and Christian Baun.
By the time he got to Boston, Gill thought he was in about 2:45 shape on a perfect day. On the up-and-down course, Gill was on pace for 16 miles until he hit the Newton hills, and that slowed him down. By the time he got to the famous Heartbreak Hill between Miles 20 and 21 near the Boston College campus — the last of the inclines on the course — he let go of 2:45 and decided to focus on his secondary goal of finishing under 2:50.
“I really got back on pace after the hills and got some momentum again,” Gill said. “My mechanics were kind of shot at that point but I was fine aerobically and could still get through the miles.”
He received an added boost when he saw his father and his partner at Mile 24.
“That was the highlight for me, seeing them on the course,” Gill said. “After that, I was really motivated and re-energized and closed the race to get under that 2:50 mark.”
Prior to Boston, Scott Lamont put in 40 to 50 miles per week, taking just two days off per week. He ran about 1,100 miles to prepare in 2015, while he was closer to 750 this year, and he admits that had him wondering if he was as fit as he needed to be.
Lamont said he was focused on his result more than the experience itself, although he added it’s impossible not to take in the atmosphere. He keys in on the people around him, and they ultimately help shape the day for him.
“It’s being in the moment while you’re running, but you’re not blind and you’re not deaf,” Lamont said. “But I’m in the moment and looking at the people around me and enjoying the experience the same way I presume they are.”
An old marathon adage is that a marathon really starts at Mile 20 because that’s when the suffering truly begins. But it’s a little different in Boston because of the course’s configuration.
“Normally when you get to mile 20 or 21 and you’re in the pain cave and just doing everything you can do to finish,” Lamont said. “Here, it was ‘OK, I’m at mile 21, I can take it easy because I’m not going to be climbing any more hills and it’s going to be mostly downhill.”
Lamont said his quadriceps were sore at that point but it was nice to have the feeling that the worst was behind him. And while he hoped for a quicker race, he was content with how it went.
“I’m reasonably happy with that,” Lamont said. “It’s the slowest marathon that I’ve done in quite a while but we’re talking minutes. It was more the course than anything else. You’ve really got to prepare well for it.”
Gill certainly did, and he said there is an emotional ecstasy that comes with an experience like that, and he’s had to accept it might be a while before anything similar happens again.
He isn’t sure what his next adventure will be: Instead he wants to take a break after his heavy training load to let his body recover.
“To stay in this sport and to take on these big goals, it has to be personal to you,” Gill said. “You have to believe in it, you have to attach some meaning or some value to the experience. You have to accept that sometimes you’re going to have some highs and lows. I think for me, running is such a positive factor in my life. Boston just represents what running has done for me.
“I would have still been pretty satisfied even if I never qualified and got to Boston. I had unfinished business, but I think running is a celebration of life and a celebration of the human spirit.
“The experience was just incredible. You want to be inspired and immerse yourself in history and be surrounded by people who all have stories to tell. Sharing a historic course with like-minded people, you’re not going to get many chances to do that.
“It definitely lived up to the hype.”
» Twitter: @PerryBergson
- Brandon University
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